Chris Rodda gives away her book on religious revisionist American history

OG_slinger wrote:

And for wordsmythe, I'm not sure we can collectively get past this issue with simple public discourse anymore. For more than 30 years the Religious Right has been indoctrinating people that there's a war against Christianity being waged. You really can't talk to people who feel that their beliefs have been under constant siege for an entire generation. They now have a bunker mentality and everyone outside their bunker is considered the enemy. Of course while they paint themselves as the powerless besieged, they are they are actually an incredibly powerful and influential political power that is aggressively (and, sadly, successfully) legislating their belief system.

Call me a c*ck-eyed optimist, but as much as the boomer's tend to fall into "us vs. them" on just about everything, I don't see it happening as much with Gen X or Gen Y. In fact, I see a steady stream of aging fundamentalists (of multiple faiths) who are very much concerned that the true faith is "under attack" by the demonic forces of "post modernism" and "loose theology"—and I don't think it's so sinister as that, but that old and broken models are being slowly replaced as younger generations take control.

That all depends on how you define "acting like a big jerk". Far, far too many people define "acting like a big jerk" as "not accepting my assertion as an unassailable first principle".

Discourse is much, much better and more productive if it is police, gracious, and respectful. However, rationality is more important than manners. If a conversation is to be considered rational then, all parties must agree beforehand that when two assertions contradict each other, the more rational of the two must be accepted and the less rational must be rejected. If we agree that less rational assertions must be allowed to be given equal respect as their more rational counterparts, what we are engaged in is no longer rational discourse.

Oso wrote:

However, rationality is more important than manners.

Disagree. Two parties should be able to treat each other with respect even if they differ in their view on what is "obviously rational."

Nomad wrote:

Help me understand your points. Can I sum them up like this?

1. Nomad, you don't agree with her message so her tone and communication style are irrelevant.

If this is what you are saying I completely disagree. If someone is well spoken and polite I am much more inclined to discussion and listening to what they have to say. Point in case, I can look to the bookshelf on my left and see the book "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry A Coyne, which I have read, not because I agreed with the concept or premise, but because of polite and rational discussion (most of the time ) on these forums.

2. Wordsmythe, polite, gracious and respectful discourse is useless. The positions and actions of the people I don't agree with force me to bypass simple public discourse and resort to the disrespectful and belligerent things illustrated in your(Wordsmythe's) post.

Again I totally disagree. How does a person acting like a jerk ever help to bring understanding and resolution to a situation?

1. Yet even after reading that book--and participating in multiple threads on this forum--you still believe whole-heartedly in Creationism. Your position hasn't changed even in the face of loads of evidence to the contrary or people exposing massive holes or contradictions in your set of beliefs.

So, again, it's not the tone of the message, it's the message itself. I could sing it to you as a lullaby and you'd still reject it.

2. Public discourse is hardly ever polite, gracious, and respectful. Do you really think that the public discourse around the civil rights movement was anything but ugly and divisive when you got down to brass tacks? It was the clash of two different belief systems and clashes of that scale are never like high school debate class. Want a more recent example? Just look at the public discourse around gay rights, from Prop. 8 to DADT.

You artificially limit the debate and shape it so that it's beneficial to your side by insisting that people have to be respectful. See, I can simply claim that anything you say--unless it is my exact argument--is disrespectful. The only way for this 'discussion' to continue is if for you to first show proper respect for my position, which would mean admitting it is either absolutely correct or extremely viable. Anything short of that and I can cry foul and shut down any further interaction while claiming the moral high ground.

The same applies to your idea of belligerence. You're always going to believe that someone who says something you find abhorrent is being belligerent. There's not a nice way someone can say that everything you believe in is bullsh*t without you feeling like they are attacking you. Again, it goes back to that it's not about the tone of the message, but the message itself.

Beyond that, I'd be very interested to hear why you think what Chris Rodda says is belligerent and disrespectful. And I mean specifics. What exactly did she say for you to call her antagonistic and accusatory?

wordsmythe wrote:

Call me a c*ck-eyed optimist, but as much as the boomer's tend to fall into "us vs. them" on just about everything, I don't see it happening as much with Gen X or Gen Y. In fact, I see a steady stream of aging fundamentalists (of multiple faiths) who are very much concerned that the true faith is "under attack" by the demonic forces of "post modernism" and "loose theology"—and I don't think it's so sinister as that, but that old and broken models are being slowly replaced as younger generations take control.

I agree with you that old models are being slowly replaced as younger generations take control, I simply fear what those generations--who have been indoctrinated their entire lives to think that Christianity is under siege--will do. That there are many Gen X and Y folks who graduated with "law degrees" from evangelical Christian universities who served in Bush's Administration and who are still in government service scares the crap out of me.

Mytch wrote:
Oso wrote:

However, rationality is more important than manners.

Disagree. Two parties should be able to treat each other with respect even if they differ in their view on what is "obviously rational."

I agree with that assertion, because most of the time I prefer to engage in civil discourse over rational discourse. It is only when the purpose of the conversation is to arrive at a rational conclusion that rationality becomes primary. Even then everything else being equal a civil assertion is to be preferred to an uncivil assertion. Given the two assertions below:

Assertion A wrote:

All due respect given to the work done by evolutionary biologists, but my strongly held religious beliefs teach me that acquired traits can be inherited. This is why I work hard and am kind to others, so that my children will be better people than me.

Assertion B wrote:

Well, numb-nuts, we can test your theory with a measuring tape. If your brats' assholes are bigger than their brains, we'll know you've succeeded in passing on acquired traits. Only inherited traits and mutations can be passed on, our choices do not write themselves on our DNA.

Person A is much more polite, but person B is technically correct. In a civil discourse, we'd honor following the rules of polite behavior more than the content of our conversation, but if we're trying to improve our knowledge, being nice is not a substitute for being rational.

OG_slinger wrote:
Nomad wrote:

Help me understand your points. Can I sum them up like this?

1. Nomad, you don't agree with her message so her tone and communication style are irrelevant.

If this is what you are saying I completely disagree. If someone is well spoken and polite I am much more inclined to discussion and listening to what they have to say. Point in case, I can look to the bookshelf on my left and see the book "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry A Coyne, which I have read, not because I agreed with the concept or premise, but because of polite and rational discussion (most of the time ) on these forums.

2. Wordsmythe, polite, gracious and respectful discourse is useless. The positions and actions of the people I don't agree with force me to bypass simple public discourse and resort to the disrespectful and belligerent things illustrated in your(Wordsmythe's) post.

Again I totally disagree. How does a person acting like a jerk ever help to bring understanding and resolution to a situation?

1. Yet even after reading that book--and participating in multiple threads on this forum--you still believe whole-heartedly in Creationism. Your position hasn't changed even in the face of loads of evidence to the contrary or people exposing massive holes or contradictions in your set of beliefs.

So, again, it's not the tone of the message, it's the message itself. I could sing it to you as a lullaby and you'd still reject it.

2. Public discourse is hardly ever polite, gracious, and respectful. Do you really think that the public discourse around the civil rights movement was anything but ugly and divisive when you got down to brass tacks? It was the clash of two different belief systems and clashes of that scale are never like high school debate class. Want a more recent example? Just look at the public discourse around gay rights, from Prop. 8 to DADT.

You artificially limit the debate and shape it so that it's beneficial to your side by insisting that people have to be respectful. See, I can simply claim that anything you say--unless it is my exact argument--is disrespectful. The only way for this 'discussion' to continue is if for you to first show proper respect for my position, which would mean admitting it is either absolutely correct or extremely viable. Anything short of that and I can cry foul and shut down any further interaction while claiming the moral high ground.

The same applies to your idea of belligerence. You're always going to believe that someone who says something you find abhorrent is being belligerent. There's not a nice way someone can say that everything you believe in is bullsh*t without you feeling like they are attacking you. Again, it goes back to that it's not about the tone of the message, but the message itself.

Beyond that, I'd be very interested to hear why you think what Chris Rodda says is belligerent and disrespectful. And I mean specifics. What exactly did she say for you to call her antagonistic and accusatory?

wordsmythe wrote:

Call me a c*ck-eyed optimist, but as much as the boomer's tend to fall into "us vs. them" on just about everything, I don't see it happening as much with Gen X or Gen Y. In fact, I see a steady stream of aging fundamentalists (of multiple faiths) who are very much concerned that the true faith is "under attack" by the demonic forces of "post modernism" and "loose theology"—and I don't think it's so sinister as that, but that old and broken models are being slowly replaced as younger generations take control.

I agree with you that old models are being slowly replaced as younger generations take control, I simply fear what those generations--who have been indoctrinated their entire lives to think that Christianity is under siege--will do. That there are many Gen X and Y folks who graduated with "law degrees" from evangelical Christian universities who served in Bush's Administration and who are still in government service scares the crap out of me.

Not just evangelicals, too. Anecdote warning:

I've got an Episcopalian friend, who is pro-gay rights, pro-women's rights, etc., but still feels like she is persecuted for being Christian. She says that she feels like she's stereotyped just for her religion, and feels marginalized, and like people are out to get her.

Oso has raised a new bar for head up the ass jokes.

OG_slinger wrote:

And for wordsmythe, I'm not sure we can collectively get past this issue with simple public discourse anymore. For more than 30 years the Religious Right has been indoctrinating people that there's a war against Christianity being waged. You really can't talk to people who feel that their beliefs have been under constant siege for an entire generation. They now have a bunker mentality and everyone outside their bunker is considered the enemy. Of course while they paint themselves as the powerless besieged, they are they are actually an incredibly powerful and influential political power that is aggressively (and, sadly, successfully) legislating their belief system.

The thing is that the people that have bunkered themselves off from you aren't going to listen to you no matter how rude or loud you are. Instead of taking that as an excuse to be rude and loud you should keep being respectful. You're more likely to get the people that haven't bunkered themselves off yet, and you take away ammo from people trying to get the middle to build their own bunkers.

I haven't read Rodda's book yet, so I don't know if I would consider her to be respectful or not, I am just speaking in general.

Yonder wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

And for wordsmythe, I'm not sure we can collectively get past this issue with simple public discourse anymore. For more than 30 years the Religious Right has been indoctrinating people that there's a war against Christianity being waged. You really can't talk to people who feel that their beliefs have been under constant siege for an entire generation. They now have a bunker mentality and everyone outside their bunker is considered the enemy. Of course while they paint themselves as the powerless besieged, they are they are actually an incredibly powerful and influential political power that is aggressively (and, sadly, successfully) legislating their belief system.

The thing is that the people that have bunkered themselves off from you aren't going to listen to you no matter how rude or loud you are. Instead of taking that as an excuse to be rude and loud you should keep being respectful. You're more likely to get the people that haven't bunkered themselves off yet, and you take away ammo from people trying to get the middle to build their own bunkers.

I haven't read Rodda's book yet, so I don't know if I would consider her to be respectful or not, I am just speaking in general.

Word.

OG_slinger wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

Call me a c*ck-eyed optimist, but as much as the boomer's tend to fall into "us vs. them" on just about everything, I don't see it happening as much with Gen X or Gen Y. In fact, I see a steady stream of aging fundamentalists (of multiple faiths) who are very much concerned that the true faith is "under attack" by the demonic forces of "post modernism" and "loose theology"—and I don't think it's so sinister as that, but that old and broken models are being slowly replaced as younger generations take control.

I agree with you that old models are being slowly replaced as younger generations take control, I simply fear what those generations--who have been indoctrinated their entire lives to think that Christianity is under siege--will do. That there are many Gen X and Y folks who graduated with "law degrees" from evangelical Christian universities who served in Bush's Administration and who are still in government service scares the crap out of me.

Yeah, man. That outgroup is the worst!

Tanglebones wrote:

Not just evangelicals, too. Anecdote warning:

I've got an Episcopalian friend, who is pro-gay rights, pro-women's rights, etc., but still feels like she is persecuted for being Christian. She says that she feels like she's stereotyped just for her religion, and feels marginalized, and like people are out to get her.

Sure, it's not 100% of any arbitrary group, but I think the trend is in a healthier direction.

Based on the forward I'm rather hopeful that the book itself does not carry over the tone from the title. I'll just put that out there.

And I agree with Nomad, Oso, Yonder, and whomever else has said it: "Others being asshats does not justify acting as an asshat in return, no matter how truthful you are" or "How I learned to stop arguing and love civil discourse"

Yonder wrote:

The thing is that the people that have bunkered themselves off from you aren't going to listen to you no matter how rude or loud you are. Instead of taking that as an excuse to be rude and loud you should keep being respectful. You're more likely to get the people that haven't bunkered themselves off yet, and you take away ammo from people trying to get the middle to build their own bunkers.

I haven't read Rodda's book yet, so I don't know if I would consider her to be respectful or not, I am just speaking in general.

Again, what exactly is being said that's rude, loud, and disrespectful? That America isn't really a Christian nation and that people who insist so are incorrect?

OG_slinger wrote:
Yonder wrote:

The thing is that the people that have bunkered themselves off from you aren't going to listen to you no matter how rude or loud you are. Instead of taking that as an excuse to be rude and loud you should keep being respectful. You're more likely to get the people that haven't bunkered themselves off yet, and you take away ammo from people trying to get the middle to build their own bunkers.

I haven't read Rodda's book yet, so I don't know if I would consider her to be respectful or not, I am just speaking in general.

Again, what exactly is being said that's rude, loud, and disrespectful? That America isn't really a Christian nation and that people who insist so are incorrect?

Like I said in the last sentence, I'm just speaking in general. I haven't yet read Rodda's book so I don't know whether she was disrespectful. I was responding directly to your idea that

I'm not sure we can collectively get past this issue with simple public discourse anymore.

Which I took to mean that you thought that more aggressive speech and communication was required to address the issue of historical revision etc etc.

OG_slinger wrote:
Yonder wrote:

The thing is that the people that have bunkered themselves off from you aren't going to listen to you no matter how rude or loud you are. Instead of taking that as an excuse to be rude and loud you should keep being respectful. You're more likely to get the people that haven't bunkered themselves off yet, and you take away ammo from people trying to get the middle to build their own bunkers.

I haven't read Rodda's book yet, so I don't know if I would consider her to be respectful or not, I am just speaking in general.

Again, what exactly is being said that's rude, loud, and disrespectful? That America isn't really a Christian nation and that people who insist so are incorrect?

Most people consider generalizations about their demographic group disrespectful.

And for those who believe that a war against christianity is going on; if their belief is based on evidence that some wish to reduce their power and public presence then, well, they'd be right and it's rude to ridicule them for being worried about it.

edit: This is NOT to say that those who knowingly perpetrate falsehoods aren't horrible people that deserve judgement as opposed to those who unknowingly do so. I am trying to say that you should reserve your vitriol for the former and not the latter.

Also, reserving it until their complicity has been publicly proven wouldn't hurt either.

Basically there's a very small subset of times where letting your judgement show helps your argument with anybody but those who already agree with you. And if your claim is that those who disagree with you already disagree and always will... well then this isn't discourse, it's just verbal rock throwing.

I just skimmed through the first chapter of Rodda's book, and it's rigorously formal. It's not snarky and does not contain judgemental asides or personal opinions on the issues. It's certainly not rude, and believe me, I've read rude books on similar topics.

As long as "Christian" is a loosely defined term, we're going to have problems when it is difficult to distinguish between criticizing specific beliefs and actions of Christians and criticizing Christian Belief.

Looking at Rodda's website and reading the intro and 1st chapter of Liars for Jesus, I've become clear that she's set herself against a militant group of bible-belt radicals. However, it is easy enough for folks who are rational, humble, and kind in their faith to feel lumped in when she calls for fundraising to: "Help Fight the Scourge of Christian Nationalism" and to take offense.

I assume Rodda is addressing the folks who Matt Taibbi investigated in The Great Derrangement and the folks who were the subject of the documentary Jesus Camp. I think most people will accept that there are some whack-ass cult-like behaviors on the fringes of evangelical religion. Where the interesting discussion takes place is: are critics like Rodda, Taibi, and the Jesus Camp folks picking a straw-man target of their criticism?

What I'd like to see is a discussion of who has a duty and a responsibility to separate the fringe lunatics from the mainstream church. Should people like Rodda and Taibbi take more care to include the local Catholic and Mainstream Protestant beliefs and contrast those with the snake-handlers & speakers-in-tongues that are their targets? Or do normal, mainstream, ethical Christian individuals and their leaders have a responsibility to separate their beliefs from the anti-intellectual, mysogynist, and homophobic rantings of the fringe Christian cultists?

Her book addresses specific arguments made in support of the "Christian Nation" assertions, with sources. In the very first paragraph of the Foreward, they note that they are addressing assertions made by "some Christians", and they don't paint with a wide brush. For example, in the first chapter, she starts off with a claim made by William Federer in "America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations" and also Tim LaHaye in "Faith of Our Founding Fathers", both of which claim that Congress recommended that 20,000 Bibles be imported for the people of the colonies in reaction to a shortage.

So she's not inveighing against Christianity, just specific, well-defined lies that have cropped up in the public eye as support for right wing Christian political positions.

This is one of the frustrations I have been mulling over recently. I have encountered people who feel they are open minded but are faith first. I have already clarified my bias against faith and not religion or even organized religion. However, being faith first nearly totally precludes you from allowing yourself to be tested because any differing opinion imediately challenges your faith by default. Add to that the fact that many faith first people feel that G-D guides their actions. Even if you acknowledge that G-d doesn't speak to you directly, I don't see how he can influence you any other way being faith first.

I really struggle with the idea of someone aspiring towards a righteous life, by practicing faith first. It seems you can't have an intellectual conversation with them by default because they will either let the points of disagreement bounce off their faith built buttress or they will talk to you through their faith and thus not on the same level.

fangblackbone wrote:

I really struggle with the idea of someone aspiring towards a righteous life, by practicing faith first. It seems you can't have an intellectual conversation with them by default because they will either let the points of disagreement bounce off their faith built buttress or they will talk to you through their faith and thus not on the same level.

The classical sense of this is "faith seeking understanding" or fides quaerens intellectum, a tradition going back to St. Anselm. When done properly, this is a statement of humility. I have faith, but I admit I don't understand, so I'm looking to know more. When it is a humble admission that the faithful one doesn't have all the answers, plenty of conversation and discussion of points of disagreement are possible primarily because their belief is potentially flawed and so finding an area of contradiction or learning something new leads to a *better* understanding of faith. Being wrong, from this point of view, is a strength, not a weakness.

On the other hand, it is annoying as hell when instead of being a humble admission, it becomes a cheap parlor trick that exempts the believer from the rule of logic or law of non-contradiction.

I was thinking about this thread earlier today as the Minnesota Senate voted to approve a ballot to put a gay marriage man amendment in the Minnesota constitution. I know our local state senator; I coached his daughter in soccer and we've been at each other's houses socially, as we have mutual friends. I'm not close buddies with the guy by any stretch, but we've been friendly for a number of years. He voted for the amendment, and I will never allow him into my home again. It's one thing to have a view I disagree with, it's another to try to codify what seemed utterly clear to me to be prejudice and bigotry into the law of the land. I'd feel the same if he voted for segregated water fountains or to keep Jews out of public office.

I don't plan to confront the guy, but I just can't associate with him. He frankly disgusts me.

Robear wrote:

I just skimmed through the first chapter of Rodda's book, and it's rigorously formal. It's not snarky and does not contain judgemental asides or personal opinions on the issues. It's certainly not rude, and believe me, I've read rude books on similar topics.

I'm about 100 pages in and I have to agree. This isn't some diatribe against Christianity. It is a step by agonizing step factual rebuttal about the context and details of our nation's history that are, for lack of any better explanation, being willfully or misguidedly misrepresented by liars to further their own political agendas. And I use the term "Liar" in the factual sense, not in the derogatory. The cases so far addressed are people demonstrably publishing false things as fact. And then being quoted by other researchers and politicians as fact. I'm reminded of the Conservative Wikipedia Clone that was linked a while ago.

So far the cases have varied from subtly misquoting to outright falsification. In one case the author even included footnotes to the source materials that would, if reviewed by any interested party, immediately rebut the claims being made. What does that tell you about the author's respect for their audience? These aren't people to protect.

And that's the frustrating thing. These are lies that are hard or inconvenient to check up on, and are in some cases even contradictory so you get a sense that there is some mystery to the truth when in fact we have mountains of evidence to gain a relatively clear picture of the intent and mindset of our founding fathers. And I can't help but believe that the people perpetrating these lies are doing so willfully. If they were truly researchers then they wouldn't try so desperately to spin or remix any passing reference or tangential mention of their topic as full-throated support of their pet issue by the precedent of history.

BadKen summed it up nicely in the original post. So consider this my affirmation that BadKen isn't, in this case, a liar.

BadKen wrote:

Despite the provocative title, this is a remarkable book. It's full of research drawn from original sources like the minutes of the Continental Congress, records of court cases, and actual letters written by the founding fathers. It explodes some of the most popular myths and stories propagated by those seeking to inject religion into government, and points out where and how false statements are made up and used, even in sources as unimpeachable as the Library of Congress web site.

Truth. -Rezzy.

It's exactly this sort of rigorous scholarship, this full throated bashing down of deliberate falsehoods, that prompts the knuckledragging lying class amongst the politically religious to characterize thinking people as "pencil necked weasels".

There is no apology necessary for this. It is what all decent people should be doing on a constant and deliberative basis.

This discussion went in an interesting direction.

What bothers me about characterizing "Liars for Jesus" as confrontational or inflammatory is the implicit thought that anyone who is "for Jesus" can't be a "Liar," and that claiming otherwise is an attack on everyone who is "for Jesus". Isn't one of the foundations of Christianity that all humans are fallible and that they require absolution from sin, whether that be by religious ritual or automatically provided by Christ's sacrifice?

My idea of a "true" Christian would seek out people of faith who were lying and make every effort to discredit them. Yet over and over again, we see the exact opposite thing happening. Maybe the defensive reaction is caused by the kind of indoctrination discussed here, that Christianity is under attack, and that any negative statement made against any Christian or group of Christians is an attempt to portray all Christians negatively.

So not only are some people judging a book by its cover, but they are also taking offense at statements not directed at them. (I mean people in general, not just on this forum.)

In the specific case of this book, as several people have pointed out, Rodda is most definitely *not* in attack mode. When she calls someone a liar, she then sets out to prove irrefutably that it is a fact. The "for Jesus" part merely classifies these lies. All the assertions she debunks try to characterize the US government as not just religious, but a certain brand of religious, and those characterizations are for the express purpose of granting political power and advantage to that brand of religion.

Rezzy wrote:

And I use the term "Liar" in the factual sense, not in the derogatory.

This sort of speaks to why I think the title would strike a dissonant chord with anyone she may be trying to bring over to her side.

Say one of the authors she targets wrote a response in which he defended his research and brought to light new evidence supporting his claims in a factual, reasonable, non-threatening manner (set aside for the moment whether you believe such evidence exists). Would you be interested in reading it?

What if he called it A Response To The Heathen Outcry?

Mytch wrote:
Rezzy wrote:

And I use the term "Liar" in the factual sense, not in the derogatory.

This sort of speaks to why I think the title would strike a dissonant chord with anyone she may be trying to bring over to her side.

Say one of the authors she targets wrote a response in which he defended his research and brought to light new evidence supporting his claims in a factual, reasonable, non-threatening manner (set aside for the moment whether you believe such evidence exists). Would you be interested in reading it?

What if he called it A Response To The Heathen Outcry?

First, she's not trying to bring anyone to "her side." She's presenting the facts as found in the historical record, and pointing out statements that are contrary to those facts.

Second, as unlikely as a rebuttal is, a rebuttal couldn't possibly have the impact of the original book, regardless of its title. The purpose of the original book is to debunk lies that are told in order to systematically advance the interests of a specific group of people. This book is not trying to convert people to a belief system, it is not trying to get legislation passed, it is not trying to keep bibles out of schools, it is only trying to clarify what the true parameters are around the founding of the US by presenting historical evidence against fabrications that are being spread via mainstream media. So I'd be unlikely to be interested in a rebuttal regardless of its title, because its motives are automatically suspect.

I'm with Oso. When the goal is to find facts, rationality trumps etiquette. If someone has something intellectually challenging to present me, I don't care how they do it. As Christopher Hitchens has shown again and again, being forcefully indiscreet can be considerably more entertaining (and super effective!) than being polite and appealing to emotions. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if I heard of someone arguing a religious matter and doing it forcefully and impolitely, I might be more inclined to pay attention. In my experience, arguments of that nature are usually couched as polite emotional appeals. Rather than challenging supposition with facts, they usually rely on feelings and lack a rational foundation.

Mytch wrote:

What if he called it A Response To The Heathen Outcry?

As a self-identified Heathen and occasional liar I don't take offense at correct labels. I do take offense at attempts to destroy the principles of the country that taxes me by lying about one of the few parts of its history that it got absolutely right and, in my opinion, is a cornerstone of what makes us a great nation.

This video, by the way, is awesome. She's pretty handy with an electric guitar.
If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, at least watch the last minute or so, from 13:45 on.

Oso wrote:

Looking at Rodda's website and reading the intro and 1st chapter of Liars for Jesus, I've become clear that she's set herself against a militant group of bible-belt radicals. However, it is easy enough for folks who are rational, humble, and kind in their faith to feel lumped in when she calls for fundraising to: "Help Fight the Scourge of Christian Nationalism" and to take offense.

Then those people are acting strictly out of emotion.

The fact is that the Christian mandate is to bring the Gospel to the nations of the world, not to overtake their governments and ram the Gospel down people's throats. Shotgun theology does not bring warmth to the heart of God.

What I'd like to see is a discussion of who has a duty and a responsibility to separate the fringe lunatics from the mainstream church. Should people like Rodda and Taibbi take more care to include the local Catholic and Mainstream Protestant beliefs and contrast those with the snake-handlers & speakers-in-tongues that are their targets? Or do normal, mainstream, ethical Christian individuals and their leaders have a responsibility to separate their beliefs from the anti-intellectual, mysogynist, and homophobic rantings of the fringe Christian cultists?

It is the duty of people inside the Church and those outside the Church as well. However, what can you do if those extremists are willing to cover for each other? Oral Roberts told the world a 700-foot Jesus told him to tell his followers to donate $1 million or else God would strike him dead and the response from his conservative Christian allies was a collective yawn. There are plenty of other examples where one member of the Christian fringe will make an outrageous statement and the response from others who count on that person as an ally is silence, excuses or ambivalence.

If the Fundamentalists are not willing to police their own, then what power does someone like me from a mainline Protestant church have other than to expose their fringe beliefs with facts like Rodda?

BadKen wrote:

What bothers me about characterizing "Liars for Jesus" as confrontational or inflammatory is the implicit thought that anyone who is "for Jesus" can't be a "Liar," and that claiming otherwise is an attack on everyone who is "for Jesus". Isn't one of the foundations of Christianity that all humans are fallible and that they require absolution from sin, whether that be by religious ritual or automatically provided by Christ's sacrifice?

Let me tell you about Todd and Francine, two seminary colleagues of mine who were wolves in sheep's clothing. My seminary is the living embodiment of the Biblical criticism movement and a hot bed of progressive thought (pro-women's quality, pro-gay marriage, etc.). It is also one of the most holy and Christian places I have ever lived.

However, Todd and Francine didn't see it that way, and they knew of the seminary's reputation well before they arrived. But they were on a mission to turn the seminary upside down and expose us "lost souls" to the "true Gospel of Jesus Christ." They were not there for a seminary education nor to be on the ordination tract for public ministry. No, they were there to convert us heathens. Of course, in order to do so, they had to blatantly lie on their application in order to gain admittance because the application specifically asked the motivations for wanting to join the seminary community and they most certainly did NOT disclose their goals. When it was apparent what their game was, they expressed not one ounce of remorse for lying on their applications and denying two slots to the seminary for individuals who actually wanted to come to seminary to learn, grow, and become ordained for public ministry.

They were liars for Christ and they relished in it.

My idea of a "true" Christian would seek out people of faith who were lying and make every effort to discredit them. Yet over and over again, we see the exact opposite thing happening. Maybe the defensive reaction is caused by the kind of indoctrination discussed here, that Christianity is under attack, and that any negative statement made against any Christian or group of Christians is an attempt to portray all Christians negatively.

I can only attest that I do not feel like Christianity (in the macro sense) is under attack in the U.S. and the only time I feel like I am under attack is when those on the conservative side of Christendom challenge my devotion to my Christian faith because I am gay.

The simple fact is that Christians are not profiled due to their religion like Muslims are. If a church is being built in an American neighborhood, most people don't bat an eye, but if you build a mosque, everyone wants to know if the people in the mosque are terrorists. No ballot measure in California called for the stripping of marriage rights from Christians, but it sure did for gay people.

It isn't that Christianity is under attack in this country, but more than Christianity is losing ground to other faiths and beliefs, and some feel that their privilege is threatened and that feels like a personal attack.

In the specific case of this book, as several people have pointed out, Rodda is most definitely *not* in attack mode. When she calls someone a liar, she then sets out to prove irrefutably that it is a fact. The "for Jesus" part merely classifies these lies. All the assertions she debunks try to characterize the US government as not just religious, but a certain brand of religious, and those characterizations are for the express purpose of granting political power and advantage to that brand of religion.

While I haven't read the book yet, I can tell you that the response from my colleagues that I went to seminary with has been a collective round of cheers for the content and the fact that Rodda wrote it.

Rezzy wrote:
Mytch wrote:

What if he called it A Response To The Heathen Outcry?

As a self-identified Heathen and occasional liar I don't take offense at correct labels. I do take offense at attempts to destroy the principles of the country that taxes me by lying about one of the few parts of its history that it got absolutely right and, in my opinion, is a cornerstone of what makes us a great nation.

I have to say, this is basically when I stand, too. This isn't some budget kerfuffle, or differing views on deregulation, or the pros and cons of immigration. Some are attempting to oppress people near and dear to me, inflict ignorance on a generation of children, and let's be honest, they aren't going to be too happy with me neither. And the arguments they return to time and again aren't simply faulty, they're flat out wrong. In that circumstance, I don't have too much problem asking "So are you poorly informed, willfully ignorant, or a flat-out liar? From the stance you're taking, one of those must be true." Taken to the extreme, the middle road is no virtue.

Phoenix Rev wrote:

It isn't that Christianity is under attack in this country, but more than Christianity is losing ground to other faiths and beliefs, and some feel that their privilege is threatened and that feels like a personal attack.

Werd.

BadKen wrote:

First, she's not trying to bring anyone to "her side." She's presenting the facts as found in the historical record, and pointing out statements that are contrary to those facts.

Poor phrasing on my part. Would it be fair to say that her goal is to educate? Would it be that big of a stretch to suppose that she hopes that someone with the wrong idea about our nation's history would be enlightened by her research? Maybe it's just a fundamental difference in the way I view comparative literature, but I don't understand what the point of presenting a statement and then debunking it is if not to persuade others of its untruth.

BadKen wrote:

Second, as unlikely as a rebuttal is, a rebuttal couldn't possibly have the impact of the original book, regardless of its title. The purpose of the original book is to debunk lies that are told in order to systematically advance the interests of a specific group of people. This book is not trying to convert people to a belief system, it is not trying to get legislation passed, it is not trying to keep bibles out of schools, it is only trying to clarify what the true parameters are around the founding of the US by presenting historical evidence against fabrications that are being spread via mainstream media. So I'd be unlikely to be interested in a rebuttal regardless of its title, because its motives are automatically suspect.

I think you're reading too much into my metaphor...that's what I get for building it on the subject at hand when it would have been more clear with a different example entirely. I was simply pointing out that even if you write a great little essay that is rational and well-researched, that presents valuable information the world will be better for your having pointed it out...and then give it a title that is inflammatory--and that title is inflammatory, even if you don't personally take it to be--then you do your work a disservice in that many who could have benefited from the information will dismiss it as something it is not. As it stands, I am now interested in this book and may pick it up (though my non-fiction pile is pretty big already and I take my time with that genre), but had it not been for the discussion here, I'm certain I wouldn't have given it a second thought.

BadKen wrote:

I'm with Oso. When the goal is to find facts, rationality trumps etiquette. If someone has something intellectually challenging to present me, I don't care how they do it. As Christopher Hitchens has shown again and again, being forcefully indiscreet can be considerably more entertaining (and super effective!) than being polite and appealing to emotions. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if I heard of someone arguing a religious matter and doing it forcefully and impolitely, I might be more inclined to pay attention. In my experience, arguments of that nature are usually couched as polite emotional appeals. Rather than challenging supposition with facts, they usually rely on feelings and lack a rational foundation.

Well, that's just an area we differ in, I guess. My regard for a person is tied pretty closely to how respectful they can be of people with differing views, how willing they are to try to understand where the other person is coming from before they start throwing rocks. My experience has been that people who are impolite and forceful are usually covering for a lack of substance, seeking to beat down their opponent with either volume or wit...and the quieter types let the rationality speak for itself. Pretty much the opposite of yours, so it may just be that we've grown up in differing environments.

Mytch wrote:

My regard for a person is tied pretty closely to how respectful they can be of people with differing views, how willing they are to try to understand where the other person is coming from before they start throwing rocks.

I agree, when it concerns matters of opinion or faith. When it concerns matters of facts and data, I have no respect for anyone who subverts the truth, nor anyone tries to spread lies, especially if they're doing it for their own gain (and why else would they, I suppose).